Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Effects of Remedial Instruction on Low-SES & Low-Math Students' Mathematics Competence, Interest and Confidence

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Effects of Remedial Instruction on Low-SES & Low-Math Students' Mathematics Competence, Interest and Confidence

Article excerpt


This study aimed to examine the effects of remedial instruction on low-SES & low-math first graders' basic mathematics competence as well as their interest and confidence in mathematics learning. Fourteen participants of low-SES & low-math were selected from two classes totaling fifty-seven first graders at a public elementary school in central Taiwan. Results show that remedial instruction conducted during the study successfully improved the low-SES & low-math students' mathematics competence and enhanced their interest and confidence in mathematics. Remedial instruction in the form of story contexts conducted through small group collaboration with manipulatives appeared to improve low-SES & low-math students' mathematics learning. Implications related to remedial instruction for low-SES & low-math students are discussed.

Keywords: low-SES & low-math students, Mathematics interest and confidence, Mathematics learning, remedial instruction

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduce the Problem

Mathematics for all has been internationally considered a key issue of mathematics education (Deschenes, Cuban, & Tyack, 2001; Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, 2001; NCTM, 2000). Every student should not only have the right to approach mathematics equally, but should also learn and understand mathematics equally. School teachers must ensure that all students receive equivalent education, especially those students who need extra attention. However, the population of Taiwanese students in low social economic status (SES) families with a low performance in mathematics continues to increase (Ministry of Education Taiwan, 2010). Low-SES is defined as having a yearly income lower than 122,928 NT dollars (about 4,100 US dollars) (Ministry of Interior Social Affairs Taiwan, 2012). At the same time, results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (OECD, 2009) do show that 15-year-old students in Taiwan performed at the top on mathematics tests; however, there still are a high percentage of these students that belong to the low mathematics achievers. For example, the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) show a big gap exists between high-SES and low-SES in Taiwan (Akiba, LeTendre, & Scribner, 2007; Mullis, Martin, Gonzalez, & Chrostowski, 2004; Mullis, Martin & Pierre, 2009). Data show that many low achievers, especially in mathematics, are from low-SES families, therefore, they need extra help to promote their mathematics ability (Ministry of Education Taiwan [MET], 2010).

Previous studies indicate that low-SES students and low achievers in mathematics who are at risk in mathematics performance need more care and assistance; unfortunately, they usually do not receive enough attention from researchers and instructors (Cramer, Post, & delMas, 2002; Empson, 2003). Some action, thus, needs to be taken to tackle this rarely-visited issue. In addition, several earlier studies show that low-SES students' mathematics performance is highly related to their mathematics interest and confidence (Hannula, Maijala, & Pehkonen, 2004; Köller, Baumert, & Schnabel, 2001). Increasing interest and confidence in these low-SES students could be used to enhance their performance in mathematics. Therefore, two research questions were developed to address this issue:

1) Does remedial instruction improve low-SES & low-math students' interest and confidence in mathematics learning, and thus enhance their mathematics competence?

2) Specifically, what elements of the remedial instruction trigger low-SES & low-math students' interest and confidence toward mathematics learning?

1.2 The Importance of Equality in Mathematics for All Students

Accomplishing equality in mathematics education is an important challenge to school teachers, mathematics educators, and researchers (Bartell, 2011; NCTM, 2000; Schoenfeld, 2002). …

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